We're into the last full month before the November 6th midterm elections. Early voting is already underway in some states. The maps below reflect the current consensus ratings of Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report, and Inside Elections. For purposes of these maps, only races rated safe by all three of these forecasters are shown in the darkest shade of red/blue. This gives us the broadest view of the competitive landscape. Note that the discussion below is as of October 1st. However, the map images themselves will update as the consensus evolves.
Democrats need to gain two seats for control. The party has a more plausible path to achieving that than earlier this year, as the GOP-held seats in Texas and Tennessee have become much more competitive than expected. However, it is still an uphill climb, with Democrats defending 26 of the 35 seats up this year. Five of those states (Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia) were won by Donald Trump by 18 points or more in 2016. Even if Democrats manage to hold all their seats, they still need to win two GOP seats, most likely some combination of Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee and/or Texas. The special election in Mississippi is a longer-shot Democratic opportunity. What's interesting about this race is that it will likely go to a November 27th runoff. Should Election Day end with Democrats holding a 50-49 lead in seats, we won't know who will control the Senate until this runoff is held.